California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Saturday that 170 ventilators shipped by the federal government to help his state respond to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus were “not working” when they arrived.
That’s not surprising.
Ventilators are demanding equipment and have to be maintained. The Obama administration burned through the national stockpile, failed to replace the N95 masks, and seemed to have done no maintenance of the ventilators. Though they’re apparently salvageable.
Newsom said that the stockpile of ventilators had been sent to Los Angeles County by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He noted that a company called Bloom Energy was fixing the equipment.
“Rather than lamenting about it, rather than complaining about it, rather than pointing fingers, rather than generating headlines in order to generate more stress and anxiety, we got a car and a truck,” Newsom said after touring Bloom Energy’s ventilator refurbishing site in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Not that Newsom is talking about it or turning the situation into headlines..”
Bloom Energy was expected to refurbish approximately 200 ventilators by Saturday, and the defective ventilators Los Angeles County received are set to be returned by Monday, Newsom added.
“That’s the spirit of California,” Newsom said. “That’s the spirit of this moment. Take responsibility, take ownership and take it upon ourselves to meet this moment head on.”
Take responsibility? There’s a whole lot of blame. And no responsibility for Governor Brown dismantling California’s own stockpile of mobile ventilators and masks.
Bloom Energy is an interesting and odd choice for rehabbing ventilators. That sort of job should normally be going to companies that supply and maintain medical equipment for hospitals.
That’s not exactly Bloom’s forte. It was a fuel cell company, the darling of the smart set, and part of the sustainable movement.
Now it’s suddenly fixing ventilators.
Bloom, which produces fuel cells, decided it wasn’t a stretch to repair and upgrade hundreds of older ventilators the state had purchased for prior pandemics, said Susan Brennan, the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Sridhar said in future weeks the company would be able to ship 200 to 250 ventilators at a time.
“We will not be the bottleneck,” he said, while urging anyone who has a ventilator to send it to Bloom for refurbishing.
“Hopefully, what we’re doing here is to say, we can do this, a week ago none of us knew anything about ventilators other than what they’re used for,” said Bloom CEO K.R. Sridhar.
I’d like to think that this is an awesome can-do success story, but I have a bad feeling.